Anyone under the impression that change in today’s production catamarans is about little more than cosmetics needs to check out the Lagoon 50—an all-new design that went on to become the winner in the 40 to 50ft cruising multihull category in SAIL’s 2019 Best Boats awards.
Design & Construction
VPLP designed the Lagoon 50 along with Patrick Le Quement. Over the years, Lagoons have become more angular with hard lines to their transoms and a downward slope to the coachroof, which creates a perception of movement. At first glance, the wrap-around glazed vertical windows look continuous. But in fact, they’re made up of panels and provide a terrific view from inside. Weight has been kept low through the use of vacuum infusion, with balsa coring above the waterline and in the deck. Spars are aluminum, and the mast has been moved aft, which helps prevent hobby-horsing and gives the boat a shorter boom, thereby making the mainsail that much easier to handle, especially shorthanded.
Where to start with a deck that’s been completely rethought? Let’s look at the aft end, which has been given a thorough makeover. First, the two steps from the transoms are nice and low, so making the transition to the cockpit is an especially easy one. Second, the hatches over the engine rooms now open up and aft, so checking the engine underway will keep you safe in the cockpit and not out on the steps. Third, two optional lockers can be added to either side of the transom seat: one to port for stowage and the other to starboard housing a grill that swivels out and over the transom steps to keep the smoke and heat out of the cockpit. Finally, the hydraulic swim platform forms a kind of teak “beach” that also carries the tender in a pair of chocks that flip down out of the way when not in use.
In the cockpit, the table to port folds in for a quick family breakfast or opens out to seat up to eight for dinner. There’s also an end seat that detaches and moves forward over the molded steps to make yet more room when the table is fully extended. To starboard is a twin lounge and an outdoor galley with a sink, a fridge, cutouts to hold bottles and a large countertop for food and cocktail prep.
To port, a series of steps leads from the cockpit up to the side deck and a well-equipped helm station. Here, a long bench seat accommodates the skipper and at least three companions. The angled dash is comprehensive, with a B&G multifunction display, wind instruments, autopilot and remote windlass control. Behind the bench seat is a triple-wide sun pad with moveable back and knee rests.
Three Harken winches manage all the lines via clutches, while three integrated sheet bins serve to collect the spaghetti. A drum to starboard manages the continuous traveler sheet. It’s electric, so you can handle the large mainsail in a blow with little effort.
From the helm, you can see the bows nicely, but as is the case with many cats, you’ll need an assistant or a camera when backing into a slip. The helm is on centerline, which means that if you drive sitting directly behind the wheel, you’ll be looking right into the mast. Most people will sit off to the side. A second set of steps to starboard leads down to the side deck. Both stairways could use some extra handholds for when the boat is bouncing along in a seaway.
Typically, the saloon on a cruising cat is ignored in all but inclement weather. However, the Lagoon 50 will make you rethink where to spend your time. The ultra-inviting settee, for example, stretches nearly full-beam. It also wraps around a table that folds out for dining, but then lowers away and articulates forward to create a cocktail lounge that faces aft toward a pop-up TV in the center console.
To starboard is a rather large nav desk with another B&G MFD, a second VHF radio and autopilot control, so on long passages, you can drive from inside. The galley is aft and split so that a meal can be prepared at the three-burner Eno stove while the sous chef preps hors d’oeuvres at the opposite counter, below which are two Isotherm refrigerators.
The master suite in the starboard hull is almost ridiculously large, with the entire length of the hull dedicated to the owner and his or her comfort. Even a landlubber would be happy to reside here. Aft to port is an island bed, with another double berth forward. Amidships on both sides are hanging lockers that are not only huge but have additional space behind them for storage of seldom-used items, like luggage or winter wear.
To starboard, the sliding door to the stateroom forms a bookcase, facing a large desk with a settee to one side. There’s also a walk-in closet, complete with three rows of drawers for stuff large and small. Above is a skylight to the saloon, and all around are fixed hull ports with opening insets and plenty of overhead hatches, so being inside the hull doesn’t feel like being buried in the bilge. This is by far the most comfortable stateroom on a production cat of this size I’ve seen, with more stowage than my bedroom at home.
In all, the Lagoon 50 is available with up to six cabins and six heads. The extra cabins are tucked forward and inboard in both hulls and in the case of the starboard side, one would replace that fabulous closet, a crime!
The Lagoon 50 provides 1,700ft of upwind sail area, including a standard full-batten mainsail and an 87 percent self-tacking jib. To help compensate for the aforementioned aft placement of the mast, which limits mainsail area, the boat has an air draft of 87ft, which allows the higher-aspect rig to capture the stronger winds aloft. The foretriangle, of course, is also made larger by this spar location. In lumpy seas and 12-16 knots of true breeze off Miami’s South Beach, we sailed 5.1 knots at 60 degrees off the wind, accelerating to 7.4 knots as we cracked off to 140 degrees.
The Lagoon 50 displaces nearly 46,000lb lightship, which is about in the ballpark for a production cat of this size. When she’s fully loaded, though, expect to add another 20,000lb. In other words, she’s not light, and to get the most out of her, you’ll want to opt for the Code 0, which during our test sail yielded 11.4 knots of boatspeed on a beam reach.
The twin 80hp Yanmar diesels (standard is 57hp) with saildrives delivered 9.5 knots at 3,000 rpm. A more efficient, but still respectable cruising speed, can be found at 2,200 rpm and 7.5 knots. As is the case with all modern catamarans, by working the engines against one another the boat can be easily pivoted when slow-speed maneuvering.
In a world of incremental improvement, it’s nice to see what a clean sheet of paper can deliver. With all the thought-provoking features aboard its new 50-footer, Lagoon has truly changed the game and how we play it.
LOA 48ft 5in LWL 46ft 11in Beam 26ft 7in Draft 4ft 7in Displacement 45,926lb (lightship) Sail Area 1,701ft Air Draft 87ft Fuel/Water (GAL) 274/126 Engine 2x 57hp. Yanmar SA/D Ratio 21 D/L Ratio 199 Designer Van Peteghem Lauriot Prevost (VPLP) Builder/U.S. Distributor Lagoon America, Annapolis, MD, cata-lagoon.com Price $665,000 (base) at time of publication.
MHS Winter 2018